Wood Street First is calling for local redevelopment plans to ensure that the area’s valued public spaces – especially the newly-improved Wood Street Plaza – are respected and enhanced. We plan to hold discussions and host and attend meetings on these issues.
Significant sums have been invested in the Plaza and the children’s play area in recent years, with funding from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund. As a result the main square and pavements have been transformed, and the play area has had a major refurbishment. Many locals have welcomed the changes (although more could be done). The Plaza is now a place where people of all ages meet, where new businesses are opening (including a popular café) and where children play in the fountains as well as the playgrounds. Wood Street First has put on a number of successful events in the Plaza in the last year or two.
However the future of the Plaza is uncertain under plans for the redevelopment of the Marlowe Road estate, Northwood Towers and the surrounding shops and premises.
We have been told that no firm decisions have been made. The Council’s current timetable with Ascham Homes is for plans to go for planning approval in June 2015.
The Council’s 2013 Area Action Plan provides the framework for planning and development of the Wood Street Area. It notes that there is “a lack of green space in the plan area” and that “the area around the Plaza is the only open space close to the High Street.” Encouragingly, it states that the Council aims to “rejuvenate the Plaza area as the heart of Wood Street. The stretch to the north of the station adjacent to the Plaza will be strengthened as a hub for people visiting, pausing or moving through Wood Street.”
However, the ideas that have been included in recent proposals raise some questions about these statements. For instance, the “emerging option” sketch below (taken from Appendix 2 of the papers from a Cabinet meeting in July 2013) is unclear about both the size of the Plaza and its relationship to Wood Street.
Wood Street First believes that the Plaza has been improved by recent investment, and that any future plans must build on this. Crucially, we believe that there must be no loss of public space, play facilities or green space, and that the Plaza must continue to have good visual and walking links to the rest of Wood Street. Only then will it fulfil its potential as a meeting point, event area, social space and hub for the whole local community. We also believe that the Council, Ascham Homes and the developer Mulalley must give local people a real voice, and must work with local groups to do this as they draw up their plans.
Wood Street First is aware of concerns about the future of the Plaza, and about the wider plans for Wood Street. We know that there is a real appetite from local people to be involved (as shown by the level of interest at an event organised by local groups last year – see the write-up here). We plan to have discussions with Architects E17 (a new voluntary group of local architects interested in Walthamstow’s built environment) and with representatives from the Marlowe Road Steering Group amongst others. We are keen to encourage constructive debate, and would welcome any thoughts and ideas you may have.